WEEKEND PREVIEW: Cascades basketball teams host Heat, volleyballers on the road to face Mariners

The University of the Fraser Valley athletic department hosts its final home games of 2017 this weekend, as the UBC Okanagan Heat come to town.

The Cascades volleyball teams, meanwhile, hop on the ferry to take on the nationally ranked Vancouver Island University Mariners in Nanaimo.

MBB: Cascades look to continue growth

Vick Toor and the Cascades face the UBC Okanagan Heat this weekend.

Friday, Nov. 24: Cascades (2-6, T-12th in Canada West) vs. UBC Okanagan Heat (2-4, T-10th in Canada West), 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25: Cascades vs. Heat, 7 p.m.

Envision Financial Athletic Centre

Webcast: CanadaWest.tv

You could hardly have blamed Cascades head coach Adam Friesen if he’d spent his Sunday chugging Pepto-Bismol, such was the roller-coaster ride his team took him on last weekend. In both home games vs. the Winnipeg Wesmen, the UFV squad built 20-point leads, only to watch the Wesmen mount rallies. On Friday, Winnipeg battled all the way back to win 90-88 in OT; on Saturday, the Cascades did a better job taking care of the ball down the stretch and prevailed 67-59.

It’s all part of the learning curve for a young team, Friesen said.

“Last weekend was awesome for us,” he said. “Winnipeg is so athletic, and they really got the lesson through to us that playing passive, slow and holding the basketball is something that we really have to stay away from.”

The Cascades’ opponent this weekend, UBC Okanagan, is coming off a bye week and like the Cascades, they’re sitting on two wins and looking to build on that to make a playoff push.

“They’re going to be tough on defence, and Triston Matthews and Aldrich Berrios are going to be tough match-ups for us,” Friesen said.

Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year forward Mark Johnson turned in his best weekend performance of the season against Winnipeg. He racked up 15 points and 12 rebounds on Friday, and poured in a season-high 18 points to go with nine boards in Saturday’s rematch. He’s second on the Cascades in scoring (10.1 points per game) and rebounding (6.3), and ranks eighth in the conference in three-point shooting percentage (45.7). For the Heat, fourth-year sharpshooting guard Aldrich Berrios is the offensive catalyst. He’s averaging 15.5 points while shooting an almost unfathomable 57.7 per cent from three, second-best in Canada West.

WBB: Cascades aim to bounce back vs. Heat

Amanda Thompson and the Cascades are looking for an improved performance this weekend vs. UBCO.

Friday, Nov. 24: Cascades (2-6, 13th in Canada West) vs. UBC Okanagan Heat (0-6, 16th in Canada West), 6 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25: Cascades vs. Heat, 5 p.m.

Envision Financial Athletic Centre

Webcast: CanadaWest.tv

The Cascades were on the wrong end of a weekend sweep vs. Winnipeg last weekend, and as they seek to fashion a bounce-back performance, head coach Al Tuchscherer said it’s important that they view the Heat as dangerous opponent despite their 0-6 record in Canada West play.

“They haven’t had a lot of success with wins and losses, but they have some super-talented young kids on their roster,” Tuchscherer noted. “The future is bright for them, and having coached young teams in the past, you know it can come together at any time. We need to be very wary of them.

“There’s been some frustration, for sure, for us in the first few weeks of the season here. We need to focus on some of the basic stuff – playing together as a team and growing together as a team. If we do those things, we will have some success.”

Players to watch: Sophomore guard Amanda Thompson is a key member of the Cascades’ supporting cast, and brings strong contributions at the defensive end with her length and athleticism. She’s averaging 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds on the season. One of the few veterans on the Heat’s youth-laden roster is fourth-year guard Vanessa Botteselle – she’s tied for third in Canada West in assists (3.5 per game) and is averaging 6.3 points.

MVB: Cascades primed for first road trip

Josh Fefchak and the Cascades made their season debut in the national rankings this week.

Friday, Nov. 24: No. 14 Cascades (5-5, 3rd in PACWEST) at No. 3 Vancouver Island University Mariners (9-1, 2nd in PACWEST), 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25: Cascades at Mariners, 3 p.m.

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

Just days after making their first appearance of the season in the CCAA national rankings at No. 14, the Cascades volleyball men will see their newfound status sternly tested with a tough road match-up vs. the No. 3-ranked VIU Mariners.

It’s the first true road trip of the season for the Cascades, who opened the season at their crosstown rival Columbia Bible College Bearcats before embarking on a nine-game homestand. This weekend marks their last games of the semester, but the start of a string of eight consecutive road games bridging the Christmas break.

“I think the road will be a good test for us as a group,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “It’ll be good bonding-wise for us, because we haven’t had a chance to do that yet. I’m hoping this is a good way for us to go into the break and have a good feel for what the road’s going to be like and what’s to come (in the new year).”

Players to watch: Cascades setter Adam Frederickson is arguably the best blocker at his position in the league, ranking 17th overall in the PACWEST in that department at 0.38 blocks per set. He also keeps the offence humming, dishing out 8.41 assists per set. The Mariners are an offensive juggernaut, boasting the two most prolific attackers in the conference in Brayden Brouwer and Jeff Webb. They rank first and second, respectively, in both kills and total offence.

WVB: Cascades face another nationally ranked foe in No. 3 Mariners

Chelsea Kidd, Teagan Johnstone and Cassidy Pearson (foreground, from left) face another tough test this weekend.

Friday, Nov. 24: No. 7 Cascades (7-3, 3rd in PACWEST) at No. 3 Vancouver Island University Mariners (8-2, 2nd in PACWEST), 6 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25: Cascades at Mariners, 1 p.m.

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

This weekend marks the third in a row in which the Cascades take on a nationally ranked opponent. On the heels of clashes with the Douglas Royals (No. 3 at the time, currently No. 2) and the College of the Rockies Avalanche (No. 11 at the time, currently NR), they’ve got a pair of dates with the No. 3 VIU Mariners on the road in Nanaimo.

The Cascades are getting healthier as a group after spending much of the first semester nursing multiple injuries. Left side Amanda Matsui and libero Amy Davidson both dressed vs. COTR last weekend, and setter Olivia Heinen is expected back at practice this week.

“I’m really excited for our first road trip – it helps the team get to know each other a little better before we go into the break,” Cascades head coach Mike Gilray said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we look against that VIU group.”

Players to watch: Redshirt first-year Amanda Matsui’s return to the lineup last weekend after missing most of the Douglas series was a huge boost for the Cascades. She’s the team’s leading point-producer on a per-set basis, ranking fourth overall in PACWEST at 3.73 points per set. UFV will need a lot from her and the rest of its outside hitters – including Kim Bauder, Cassidy Pearson, Keira Fisher and Chelsea Kidd – if they’re to have success in Nanaimo. Much of the Cascades’ defensive focus will go towards slowing fourth-year right side Mikayla Wagner, who sits fifth in the league in total offence (3.48 points/set), just behind Matsui.

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